Rep Dave Camp, R, Midland, Mich, is interviewed in his Capitol Hill office in Washington, Tuesday, June 25, 2013. (Cliff Owen / AP)
Washington — The chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee conceded Republican defeat, saying it’s time to accept a budget deal to reopen the government and avoid a threatened government default on debt.
“We lost,” U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, said Wednesday. “We didn’t enact the policies that we wanted, but I think it’s time to move forward and fund the government and highlight the problems with Obamacare.”
After 16 days of a partial federal government shutdown, House Republicans are scheduled to vote Wednesday on a measure to reopen the government and avert a potential default with no concessions on delaying, derailing or defunding President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act that they had sought.
“Oftentimes it is the journey that gets you to a point,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, Wednesday. “I would have done things differently, and looking back leadership probably would have done things differently.”
Huizenga said he is frustrated the impasse came to this point, but also is unnerved the deal hatched in the Senate didn’t include a GOP-backed plan to remove federal government subsidies for members of Congress and their staffs on the Obamacare exchanges.
The deal would reopen the government through Jan. 15 and increase the nation’s borrowing authority through Feb. 7.
In late September, many Michigan House Republicans were optimistic — even giddy — about the prospects of getting concessions on the Affordable Care Act in exchange for passing funding bills to keep the U.S. fully open.
But Democrats have remained firm throughout October against caving into GOP demands and public opinion polls show the public is putting more blame on Republicans for the impasse that initially furloughed 800,000 federal workers, closed national parks and forced the state of Michigan to float federal social services for its residents.
Gov. Rick Snyder condemned the Washington stalemate and urged action.
“They need to solve this,” he said Wednesday at an event in Lansing, “and they'd better solve it by tomorrow.”
“The biggest hurt is still to come and that is (on) the people in need,” he added, referring to food stamp and other social programs. “That’s just wrong — to take it out on people in need.”
House Republicans hoped their tea party ally in the U.S. Senate — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — would somehow convince his colleagues and vulnerable Democrats dismantling Obamacare should be the price to keep U.S. government programs functioning. In the end, Cruz spoke for more than 21 hours on the Senate floor against the health care law, but it didn’t change the Senate’s consistent rejection of the House’s demands.
Democrats and some fellow Senate Republicans — namely Arizona Sen. John McCain — admonished the freshman lawmaker for leading the GOP into an unnecessary shutdown.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, was among those House Republicans late last month who hoped Obamacare would fall to the GOP’s will and Cruz’s efforts in the Senate.
“I don’t think it was his intention to let us down,” Walberg said Monday of Cruz. “Those of us who have been here longer than Sen. Cruz understand that sometimes you battle and you don’t win. I can’t lay the blame on Ted Cruz. I can’t lay the entire blame on John McCain.”
Walberg says the fight isn’t for nothing because it raised an important issue about the problems with the health care law. As more Americas become more frustrated with the health care exchange rollout, higher costs of premiums and getting kicked off their existing insurance, they’ll vote carefully in 2014, he said.
“Obamacare is going raise its ugly head more and more,” Walberg said. “And people are going say, ‘Wait a second: Do we want more of this?’ ”
But at least one Michigan delegation member didn’t like the new deal. U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, said Wednesday he didn’t support the proposal to reopen the government because it includes no reforms.
“This final deal is not the kind of deal I was elected to vote for,” said Amash, a libertarian and tea party member known to buck leadership. “It’s a status quo deal. It’s a political deal, and it doesn’t involve any real compromise.”
Amash did not concede defeat.
“We fought hard. We stood up for American principles,” he said. “And we exposed this president for who he is: a man who is totally unwilling to compromise.”
U.S. Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress and champion of the health care law, said he supported the Senate deal as “the most reasonable and responsible one available at this time. All the same, the House should have been allowed to work its will on this matter 16 days ago in order to avoid a needless government shutdown and default crisis.”
“I urge my colleagues to support this compromise, get the government open, prevent a default, and get Americans back to work,” the Dearborn Democrat said in a Wednesday statement.
Staff Writer Gary Heinlein contributed